If you prefer to take notes by hand, an e-ink tablet might be a good choice. Not only do they provide a great reading and writing experience, but they also offer long battery life while saving paper. E-ink tablets combine the distraction-free, reading-friendly environment of a Kindle-style e-reader with the digital handwriting and note-taking capabilities of a traditional tablet. You don’t need the bright LCD displays and ultra-fast processors of Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, and Amazon tablets to get efficient grayscale technology.
However, these devices will not replace iPads, as they are primarily used for reading and writing. While you can’t stream your favorite shows or watch the latest TikTok videos on these tablets, you can bring them into the classroom without disturbing professors or classmates.
I’ve been spending a lot of time lately with the newest e-ink tablet on the market, the Amazon Kindle Scribe. Like the other e-ink tablets on this list, the Kindle Scribe comes with a stylus and offers note-taking and annotation support for PDFs. You can also handwrite notes on Kindle titles using the Sticky Notes app that attaches your notes to text. In Amazon tradition, Scribe doesn’t directly support ePub files, which means you’ll need to send them to your Kindle via Amazon’s Whispersync service for conversion. The Scribe has a 300dpi touchscreen and starts at $340 for the 16GB model, though it’s also available in 32GB and 64GB and is available now.
Onyx Boox Note Air 2
The Boox Note Air 2 is the most tablet-like e-ink device I’ve tested. The 10.3-inch tablet has a resolution of 227 DPI, runs a custom version of the Android 11 operating system, and even has its own app store where you can download third-party apps optimized for the device. Yes, while it doesn’t come pre-built into the system, there is a way to access the full Google Play Store – though I wouldn’t recommend it for anything other than downloading e-reading apps, for example Boox still has an E Ink display, not suitable for gaming or video. For step-by-step instructions on how to install the Google Play Store, check out our hands-on review of the previous model.
Plus, Boox only has 64GB of non-expandable storage, so you don’t want apps cluttering up your system. The company offers free 5GB of cloud storage through its own service for transferring documents to the device, though you can also use Dropbox, Evernote, and OneNote.
The great thing about the App Store is that it gives you access to the entire library of your Kindle, Nook, and Kobo. You can also download the Libby app for library books, which Marvel Unlimited subscribers can download and read comics, but not in color. The Note Air 2 includes speakers and a microphone that you can use to listen to audiobooks from Audible or other audiobook apps.
While Kobo is a smaller company than Amazon, it’s been making e-readers for just as long as Amazon. While Amazon once made a 9.7-inch Kindle, it never offered natural input via a touchscreen or stylus, and it was discontinued in 2014. Most recently, Kobo was the first company to launch a waterproof e-reader and the first of the major e-reader vendors to produce a 10.3-inch device with a stylus.
Like most Kobos, the Elipsa is an excellent e-reader, with battery life measured in weeks, depending on usage. Unlike Kindles, Kobos have a seemingly limitless ability to customize your reading experience. You can constantly adjust margins, line spacing, fonts and font sizes to get a page exactly as you want it, no matter the screen size. The included stylus can be used with any PDF or Kobo ePub file, so it can handle library books like books from the Kobo store.
Speaking of libraries, Kobo is known for its deep integration with the OverDrive eBook library service. As long as your local library uses OverDrive, you can easily access, search and download library books directly from your device. Borrowing eBooks from the New York Public Library is a seamless experience and makes All Kobos a must-read for library lovers.
The ReMarkable 2 is the best e-ink tablet for students who like to take lots of handwritten notes. It’s only 0.19 inches thick and weighs 0.88 pounds, making it lightweight enough to fit easily in a backpack. This 10.3-inch tablet features a monochrome digital display with a resolution of 226 DPI. Writing and text look crisp and clear, and you can choose from over 40 different note page templates, including seven notation-only options. The software is easy to use, with neat buttons at the top that let you add notebooks and folders. It has 8GB of internal storage and now includes handwriting conversion, as well as Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive integration. These services used to be part of ReMarkable’s Connect subscription, but are now included for free with every device. The Connect subscription itself still exists, but it’s now $3 per month instead of $8. It offers the ReMarkable 2 protection plan, along with unlimited cloud storage and the ability to add notes to notebooks while you’re using mobile and desktop devices.
The included stylus doesn’t need to be paired or charged, but supports tilt detection and 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity by default. In fact, it offers the most realistic typing experience of any tablet I’ve ever used. The screen has a paper-like feel, giving the pen an incredibly realistic friction feel.
ReMarkable 2 is also excellent when working with PDFs. Highlights are automatically aligned for crisp gray tones without adjustment. You can add pages to a PDF for extra annotation, or just to write in the margins. The ReMarkable’s thinness, two-week battery life, pen input, and PDF management features make this e-ink tablet my favorite.